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The Stepchild Adoption Process

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The stepchild adoption is the most common form of adoption in the country, with about half of all adoptions being made by step parents, according to adoption experts. A stepchild adoption is similar to any type of adoption, though in some states the process is slightly streamlined and a full home study may not be required.

Why Pursue a Stepchild Adoption?

  • Name change. A stepchild adoption is required if the child is to take the name of his or her step parent.
  • Permanency. A child who has endured a divorce or the loss of a parent has gone through an emotionally trying period. By pursuing a stepchild adoption, the step parent is indicating that this latest change in the child’s life is something permanent.
  • Sense of family. Many step parents see a stepchild adoption as a way to emphasize that the child is now a part of a new family. The official process of a stepchild adoption can be comforting to a child who likely is looking for some signs of permanency, even as the child may be adjusting to the loss of an everyday relationship with one of their parents.

Requirements for Stepchild Adoption

Here are some requirements that you can expect from any state if you want to go forward with a stepchild adoption:

  • Consent. It is the duty of the step parent to show a court or adoption officials that the birth parent consents to the adoption. In some cases, there are procedures to be followed to prove that consent either is not required because the birth parent has already terminated all parental rights.
  • Submit all legal forms. The decision on a stepchild adoption is made in court in virtually every state in the country, and part of the process involves understanding the particular rules and regulations in your state so that you file all the required forms for a stepchild adoption.
  • Court hearing. Once all the required legal information is submitted, the court will conduct a hearing to determine if you qualify for a stepchild adoption. If your lawyer has done an adequate job with the legal forms, this is often a fairly quick process in which the judge asks only basic questions to confirm, for the record, that you are qualified for a stepchild adoption.
  • Final adoption. This usually doesn’t occur until a second court hearing is scheduled. It is at the second court hearing that the adoption certificate is handed out and the stepchild adoption is finalized. At this point, the parents may opt to file for an amended birth certificate.
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